The rebellion by sixty six Labour MPs, including Bermondsey MP Neil Coyle, gave tacit support to Assad’s counter-revolution in Syria. No doubt Assad, Syria’s own General Franco, sat in his palace sipping champagne, cheering the Labour rebels and thinking “great speech Hilary”. However it is time to remember another famous rebellion by George Galloway MP in opposing the Labour government war in Iraq and many other acts of opposition by Jeremy Corbyn in defiance of the Labour leadership.
The bureaucratic conservative mentality (such as Stalinism) thinks that all rebellions are bad because they are acts of a minority who defy the ‘party-line’. Of course if they were the majority there would be no defiance of the party. Lenin by contrast understood that some acts of defiance are ‘good’ and should be applauded and others ‘bad’ and condemned. It all depends on the class politics and aims of the rebels. The sixty six MPs backed Cameron and the US led bombing campaign. Galloway stood up to the Bush-Blair war machine.
In 1916 James Connolly, the Irish Republican Socialist, led a republican uprising against the British Union and Crown forces occupying Ireland. Lenin was one of the first few to support the rebellion. Most socialists condemned it because it involved violence, asked if it was the right time, did he have permission and was there a better plan? Lenin did not think in these ways. He immediately recognised it was a rebellion for democracy and self determination against the imperialist world war. It was a progressive action to be supported and celebrated as it will be next year.
So it is with some amusement that I read the condemnation of my non-expulsion from Left Unity which seems to have exercised speeches by CPGB members at Left Unity conference and in Weekly Worker (1084) articles by Peter Manson (p4) and Paul Demarty (p6). They say that standing as a Republican Socialist candidate in Bermondsey was a “snub to the (Left Unity) branch” and a “middle finger to the (Left Unity) organisation”. Not a very safe spaces way of describing Republican Socialist opposition to the austerity politics of Simon Hughes and Neil Coyle MP and yes of course the lash up between TUSC-Left Unity.
Weekly Worker casts the story as an act of defiance against Left Unity. But like a Stalinist bureaucrat they never ask or explain the politics. He opposed the party line is enough to fuel their outrage. They seem to think I stood in Bermondsey to rebel against the Left Unity constitution. My ‘crime’ against the working class was defy the Left Unity constitution and drive a horse and coach right through it. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I stood in Bermondsey to support the democratic uprising that began in Scotland in 2014. It was a call for this to be extended as a wider and deeper democratic revolution in England and Wales. The ‘Manifesto for Democracy’ said that Westminster should be closed down before it fell down. We promoted the need for a democratic social republic and opposition to the reactionary and anti-democratic Acts of Union. I made the case that people in England be inspired by the working class in Glasgow and Dundee who put up a “middle finger” to Cameron and the British ruling class, and not be fooled by the anti-Scottish English chauvinism promoted by UKIP and the Tories.
Weekly Worker was not interested in any of this. Their only concern is that I had acted against the Labourite lash up of TUSC and Left Unity. It exposed their bureaucratic thinking that rebellion is bad. It became an exposure of the hypocrisy of the Weekly Worker who claimed to oppose the Labourite lash up and support republicanism. Their actions said the opposite to their words.
Six months later nobody in Left Unity is supporting the TUSC-LU bloc. Their Bermondsey candidate was not seen at Left Unity conference. Nick Wrack, the TUSC-Left Unity candidate in next door Peckham has left to join Harriet Harman in the Labour Party. Jeremy Corbyn has put them all to the sword. But the democratic programme I stood for in Bermondsey is still alive and relevant. I am still in Left Unity alongside the CPGB. Republican socialists are still standing up for same politics and principles in Left Unity and the CPGB is still supporting Labourism against republicanism and self determination.